M&A

Examples of WatchDox documents being shared securely on mobile devices. Photo Credit: WatchDox / YouTube

Exclusive: BlackBerry acquires Israel’s WatchDox, to open R&D center in Israel

According to Geektime sources, BlackBerry has acquired Israeli WatchDox for an estimated $150 million. Both companies provide secure solutions that are favored by government leaders and Hollywood moguls


Canadian mobile device manufacturer BlackBerry has acquired the file sync and share platform WatchDox for an estimated $150 million, Geektime has learned.

The deal was signed earlier this week, and following the acquisition, BlackBerry will open its first R&D center in Israel, where WatchDox is based.  Blackberry will offer WatchDox’s technology as a value-added service to complete its Enterprise Mobility Management. It will be offered alongside its BES12.

WatchDox is a fast-growing startup in the $10 billion security market, reportedly taking business away from the likes of EMC. It is headquartered in Palo Alto and has an R&D center in Israel.

It is a platform for enterprises that allows employees to sync and share files across many devices, but lets the enterprise track and control who is viewing, sharing, scanning and printing a file. The creator of the file can also put a time limit on access to the file. If hackers steal a file, they will see nothing but encrypted characters.

WatchDox is available as SaaS, a virtual appliance or a hybrid. Employees or business partners can transfer files from their personal mobile devices to company computers and vice versa. The enterprise can also track and audit who accessed the file and allow creators to wipe files from any device, even after they have left the network.

It’s like Dropbox with an extra layer of watchfulness. Cloud applications like Google Drive can also be integrated with WatchDox.

WatchDox has gained traction with governments and banks, enterprises that need an extra level of security in the cloud. The company reportedly has close to $10 million in annual revenue. It claims that its customers include “over 150 of the Fortune 1000, including the largest civilian federal agencies, 6 of the top 12 private equity firms and most of the 6 major Hollywood studios.”

“WatchDox integrates centralized information security with a user experience that are users are very appreciative about,” CEO and founder Moti Rafalin said in a statement.

Favored by Hollywood

For a movie producer, there is no worse fate than someone leaking a movie script or plot before a movie gets into theaters. Studios rely on hype and anticipation to get people to shell out close to $10 for a movie ticket. It’s not a hypothetical threat. That’s what happened to Sony Pictures last year, when more than 50 movie scripts were leaked.

As a result, Hollywood has become one of WatchDox’s major clients, and the company heavily markets itself to the industry.

Meanwhile, BlackBerry is a company that is having to reinvent itself. Best-known for its smartphone devices with built-in keyboards, in 2009 BlackBerry had about 20 percent of smartphone market share, which has plummeted to less than 1 percent today.  Part of the reason is that its devices don’t have the same selection of apps as iOS and Android.  But the company still has cash on hand for investments, and it has carved out a niche among enterprise users.

Who still uses BlackBerry?

President Barack Obama uses a BlackBerry. “I am not allowed, for security reasons, to have an iPhone,” the Wall Street Journal reported the president saying. Similarly, at Davos, Business Insider writes, “carrying a BlackBerry is still a huge symbol of your status … Davos may be the last remaining place on earth in which BlackBerry still has massive market share.” The reason? Again, security.

Thus, BlackBerry’s acquisition of WatchDox seems like a natural fit. The preferred device of presidents and corporate jet-setters is acquiring a security platform favored by Hollywood insiders. If tech company mergers were Hollywood weddings, this one would definitely be A-list.

Featured Image Credit: WatchDox / YouTube

Photo courtesy: WikiMedia Commons

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